National Women’s Day: Iowa Pink Boots Society Brew Day 2019
By Mindy Knupp
On March 8th, 2019, I attended the Iowa Chapter Pink Boots Society Brew Day. Members of the organization from each chapter get together on Pink Boots Brew Day, design a beer, and do a collaboration brew. Pink Boots Society is an international non-profit organization that supports females in the brewing industry, especially in the craft beer industry. This Society gives women the chance to meet, support, encourage, and educate other women within brewing. Pink Boots also encourages women in the brewing industry to further their education by providing scholarship opportunities through fundraising, such as the sales from chapter brews. Most recently, scholarships have been used for Siebel Institute; additionally, helping provide training for women to become beer judges at beer competitions. There are just under 2000 members worldwide and growing more every day. Pink Boots is open to any woman that works in any part of the brewing industry. I’m proud to be a member. As a mother of a teenage daughter, a group like this helps show her that women can do just as much as men and there are always other women there in your shoes helping lift you up and encourage you to grow.
Lion Bridge Brewing was kind enough to host the Iowa Chapter’s brew day this year. The recipe was pre-designed and agreed upon so supplies could be ordered. We began the day by milling our grain. Milling grain is when you pour your grain into a roller or hammer mill. The mill splits or presses the grains to expose the endosperm where the starch is at. This makes it easier for the hot water to get inside the hull and convert the starch to fermentable sugars during the mash. Your grain bill will determine the color and alcohol content of the beer. After we milled our grain it was time to Mash-In. Mash-in is a process where the grain is moved to a Mash-tun, usually by a conveyor system, mixed with hot water (160o F) and a few additives to create the profile common to the style being brewed. This process breaks down the starches into long sugar chains (fermentable sugars) which determines the alcohol content, provides the malt flavor, and color desired. The Mash-In process took around an hour and we all took turns on the brewhouse tending to the mash-in step. Once mashed-in we had roughly an hour until the next step, during this time we did our introductions and held a meeting about changes in the Pink Boots and upcoming events.
After the mash was done it was time to sparge and transfer the wort to the boil kettle. Sparging is when 1700F water is evenly sprayed over the mash to help rinse the sugars off the grains while the wort (liquid created by the grains and water during mash and pre-fermentation) is transferred to the boil kettle. Once the wort was transferred, we all took turns cleaning the grain out of the mash tun into appropriate containers to be hauled off by a farmer for use as feed for livestock. During the boiling process, the long chains of sugar are broken down into smaller chains to make it easier for the yeast to consume, also the hops are added at set amounts of time to achieve the desired aroma, taste, and bitterness for the style. After boil, our wort was transferred to a sanitized fermenter and yeast was added so they could get to work and finish the yummy bubbly to come.
During wait times the chef at Lion Bridge Brewing provided us with appetizers and lunch (amazing food). We also fellowshipped and commemorated the day by taking photos together, making new friends, and catching up with old friends. Taking turns asking and answering questions about the different aspects of the brewing process from start to consumption. Out of the 19 women in attendance that day, the jobs in the industry ranged from Head Brewers to Tap Room servers. This includes all aspects of the brewery: labs, taprooms, sales, promotion. We were also joined by one of the Iowa Brewers Guild members that go to bat for the breweries on Capitol Hill, plans events, and keeps all of us informed of new things we need to know. Thank you, Kelsey. Not one of these women were afraid to jump in and get their hands dirty, do an everyday task, or try a new one and learn something new. It never seems to surprise people that women are hired for being more than just a pretty face to sell a product. Women design, mill, brew, analyze lab-work, track fermentation, and package beer--not just sell and promote. We know our stuff not only from research but also through the hard work and love put into each ounce of goodness.
Soon, this women-designed and brewed New England Style IPA will be packaged and available in many tap rooms for you to consume. The label is designed to represent and promote the Pink Boots and all who helped are listed on the label. Don’t miss this great beer, “These Boots Are Made for Hopping” in its pink boot-covered packaging. Get out on or after April 12th and find some of this beer, give it a try, and give any lady in the industry a shout-out for a job well done! Great Job Ladies and Cheers to all!!